Choices…

Something I learn more and more each day I teach teenagers is this:

We are not what we *want* to become, we are the choices we make everyday.

I suppose what I mean is that many young people believe that they need to “find themselves” or that they need to “try out a lot of different things so they can discover who they are”.  The problem with this is that while you are “finding yourself” or “trying out things” you make choices that may be irrevocable and life-altering. So the next time you think you want to try something new or do something illicit or immoral you may want to think that the choice you make has consequences – regardless if it is a good choice or a bad choice. You just need to decide if you’re willing to live with the consequences (whether good or bad).

Too many young people feel they are “forced” to make a choice they don’t want to make. But this is far from the truth. We all can make a choice to do the right thing or the wrong thing. The right thing may be the hard thing and the wrong thing may be the easy thing, but you do have the choice. Example: I have a choice to go to work on workdays. I don’t *have* to go to work. No one is forcing me. No one is holding a gun to my head. But if I make the choice to not go to work then I have to live with the consequences of possibly being fired and eventually possibly losing my house and all those things and people I hold dear. I’m not saying that’s a wrong choice necessarily, but it does have some apparently bad consequences. One could take it to the extreme and say that even if someone is holding a gun to your head you still have a choice. You just have to be willing to live (or die) with the consequences.

You may want to become an author or a photographer. But if you make wrong choices during that path to becoming an author or a photographer, you’ve possibly decreased the chances of becoming an author or photographer. I suppose this can be stated in another way: the dreams we have of what we want to be are affected by the choices we make everyday.

It is choices, not what we want to be, that determines who we will become.

I wish the students I work with everyday could truly understand this and then practice the self-discipline necessary to control their behavior and their actions to refrain from making wrong decisions.

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